Conclusion

Pros: 

  • Looks really lovely - a very attractive retro design
  • Nice handling feature added via the new lens control ring
  • Plenty of well-placed buttons and dials for good function access
  • Balanced compromise between lens size, maximum aperture and zoom range
  • Very easy and convenient Wi-Fi set-up and connection
  • Quality and flexible rear tilting screen
  • Excellent EVF resolution, reaction and clarity
  • Much improved AF speed and accuracy

Cons:

  • Still a small sensor, especially for the size of the body
  • Vigorous noise reduction at higher ISO settings destroys detail
  • Colors can be a little odd especially in overcast conditions
  • Takes too long to wake from sleep mode
  • Control ring could be made more use of for menu navigation and play back
  • Limited exposure compensation because of physical dial design

Overall conclusion

There is definitely still a clear place in the market for cameras like the Fujifilm X30 – not just as a sole suits-most-needs camera for a holiday shooter, but also as a smaller, lighter option for an enthusiast DSLR owner in dress-down moments. It offers as much as a DSLR or mirrorless camera does in terms of control, and it looks very good while it does it.

The manual controls, such as the new lens ring, the zoom ring and the exposure compensation dial do give the X30 the satisfying feel of a 'real' camera, and the inclusion of a viewfinder, electronic or not, only completes the package. I like the way the camera looks very much, and I like the clarity and speed of the viewfinder, as well as its ability to show us white balance, focus points, exposure and a multitude of shooting data that optical finders just can’t offer – and it shows 100% of the view with no lens barrel intrusion.  

What has changed in this model, when compared to the last, is the level of convenience and the comfort of operation. The flip out screen with its better resolution, the new AF system and the Wi-Fi all add to the pleasure of the experience, and Fuji has done these things all very well. 

The weakest element of the camera is probably that which should be the most important – and that is ultimate sharpness. Between noise, noise reduction and the relatively small sensor with a low pixel count, the finest details of any scene will be rendered just slightly soft, no matter what ISO setting you are using. Even though the X30 uses a larger than usual sensor for a compact it is still tiny, and we shouldn't expect too much of it. Having said that, if you aren’t given to inspecting at 100% and you print to no more than 16x12 inches, as most of us do, you will be very happy indeed. 

The X30 does a tricky thing, which is to make the experience of shooting with a compact camera feel more like shooting with a 'real camera.' Its excellent electronic viewfinder, easy access to controls and manual zoom foster a real connection between the photographer and the camera. And if looks could kill... But for its size, it feels slightly unbalanced for the X30 to have such a small sensor when the more compact Sony RX100 III manages a bigger 1"-chip. When the X10 was introduced, there was no Sony RX-series, no Panasonic LX100. The X30's world looks a little different.

If a top-notch shooting experience and good dynamic range is an important quality in your compact camera, and high resolution and pixel-level sharpness are less crucial, consider the X30. If it's sharpness you're looking for, you'd be better served by one of the X30's not-quite-as-attractive but oh-so-modern competitors.

Fujifilm X30
Category: Premium Enthusiast Compact Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Exposure and focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Optics
Performance (speed)
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
Image quality from the X30's 2/3” 12MP sensor is very good, and while there are better-specified (and larger-sensored) compact cameras out there, the X30's combination of enthusiast-friendly ergonomics, classic styling and good everyday picture quality is very attractive.
Good for
Photographers looking for a second carry-everywhere camera with plenty of manual controls.
Not so good for
Anyone looking for class-leading image sharpness or the ultimate in low-light performance.
76%
Overall score

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Sample Galleries

There are 24 images in the Fujifilm X30 samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. Because our review images are now hosted on the 'galleries' section of dpreview.com, you can enjoy all of the new galleries functionality when browsing these samples.

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